*By Elongima Sandy PHD*
*Date 29/5/24*

When the American ambassador made that remark on national television that the people of Sierra Leone should not be expecting a rerun of the elections because nothing in the Peace Agreement calls for it and that in fact, there is no money for that luxury, what in fact he was implying is that the wishes of nearly three million Sierra Leoneans who voted in the June 2023 elections do not really matter. Justice can be sacrificed in the name of convenience.

Then there was the very typical statement by the tyrannical President Bio made in Bo recently. In very clear and unambiguous terms, he told the world that even if it is proven that he did not win the 2023 elections, nobody and nothing, not even the “Peace agreement” that his Government signed can make him give up power until 2028.

Significantly, he added that he was ready to match any challenge to his power gun for gun. So, according to him, we are all stuck with him and democracy stands postponed for four more years.
Another slippery player, ECOWAS, which has degenerated into a Club that defends corrupt and tyrannical West African leaders, has now sent a Note Verbale announcing that they will be conducting an assessment mission to determine progress made since the signing of the Peace Agreement. Of all the International partners, ECOWAS was the one that had the most muted and sterile response when the calamitously rigged election results were read and Bio was rushed back onto his throne. Apparently, ECOWAS may be coming to MEDIATE between the Government and the APC.

What this means is that even if it is discovered that the SLPP did not win the elections, they will be brokering an arrangement to accommodate them in the power system or allow them to continue to rule the country illegally and undemocratically for the sake of “Peace”.
And then there is this photo of the Tripartite Committee and Commissioners of the Elections Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) smiling and posing for the camera as if a “solution” has been found.

And yet, to date, the ECSL has flatly refused to reveal the most important information pertaining to the rigged election: the results certified at District and Regional levels by all participating political parties, as it is required by the Elections law of Sierra Leone.

If all my assertions so far are correct, then there is no doubt that the outcome of the Peace Agreement will be as disastrous as the 2023 elections itself. They will be making recommendations that will put the convenience of the SLPP Government, the opposition APC party and the International Community above the will and mandate of the people of Sierra Leone to elect the Government that they want.

One mistake that has been made from the outset and is still being made is to reduce the ongoing Sierra Leone situation to just a conflict between two political parties refereed by International Partners.

Many of the citizens who voted for the APC in the 2023 elections are not members or supporters of the APC. The people of Sierra Leone who had been carrying the increasingly undemocratic and bloody SLPP regime on their necks since 2018, had been waiting patiently for the elections as the only opportunity left to free themselves from tyranny and national self-destruct. They voted out of disgust and frustration to rid themselves of an arrogant regime that is indifferent to their extremely miserable condition and chose the lesser evil available at the time.

The whole problem being confronted in Sierra Leone today is one of ILLEGITIMACY! Everybody knows that President Bio did not win the elections; the SLPP know it, the APC know it; the International Community know it; and above all, the people know it.

Unfortunately, instead of justice being done in favor of those who voted, what we are seeing is that the three parties are closing ranks to violate and steal the rights of the people.

The international Community led by the ECOWAS mediators are seeking to calm down the players. ECOWAS see the SLPP and APC as brothers who will each have their turn in sharing the wealth of the people, as their peers do in other countries in the sub-region; so why fight? After all, although it has been in opposition for five years, wasn’t it the APC Parliamentarians who, blinded by the financial benefits showered on them as allowances etc., wasn’t it the APC MPs that allowed all the bad laws to pass in Parliament with only murmurs of disapproval? So, ECOWAS as they always do until they met their Waterloo in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali recently, will come and make the peace between the brothers, APC and SLPP, and leave the population to rot. They may even send in troops to protect their own.

As for the others UN, USA, European Union, like Pilate they will say: “we have done our bit, we can only do so much. We now wash our hands and leave Sierra Leoneans to decide their fate.” (The Sierra Leoneans did on 24th June 2023, anyway.) The International Community especially the UN, USA and the EU have invested time, money, expertise and goodwill in the nurture of democracy in this country. But here they are, confronted by an unscrupulous Government that is ever so willing to massacre their own people just to stay in power.

Therefore, they would prefer to plead non-interference and hold a position that will not make Maada Bio and his gangsters continue the mass murder of civilians. But now Maada Bio is angry and has promised bullets to defend his illegality. They are even threatening the Americans and British indirectly by warming up to the Russians {as is becoming the vogue in other parts of Africa} and making visits to the Kremlin. Is this why the Americans who were ready to spend over 1.5 million dollars, are now softening up, saying that the whole tripartite thing was about legal reforms and “accountability” but not about correcting the specific issue of the 2023 miscarriage of electoral justice?

Except the outcome of the Tripartite experience proves me wrong, this whole thing is looking more like a Tripartite Conspiracy against the rights of the people of Sierra Leone to choose the leaders they want; not a tripartite committee that intends to restore democracy.

Isn’t it laughable that a Government that has just brazenly violated almost all the electoral laws in the book in order to retain power could be expected to be in charge of implementing new sets of electoral laws and rules to be proposed by the tripartite conspiracy? Rigging elections has now become a culture for this SLPP regime and no election is too small or exempt from their bulldozing expertise in rigging. From trades union, students’ union, kekeh drivers to market women’s elections, they will use violence and pump in money stolen from the State to support candidates that are SLPP.

In cases where money doesn’t work, such as in the recent Sierra Leone Bar Association elections, they would fly in the head of the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission to openly and expertly rig the elections and return to the comfort and luxury of his home and family in the USA. Talk about accountability!

This SLPP experiment is no more working for Sierra Leone, and the people know it. They clearly made that statement using the ballot box last year, because they don’t have the bullets. The regime has the bullets and is proudly and threateningly brandishing them for all to see; all in a bid to impose itself on the people for four more painful years.
How patient will the people be? Will the international community team up with the SLPP and APC to postpone democracy until 2028 and trash the rights of the people, giving enough time and space for the SLPP regime to complete their transformation of Sierra Leone into a de facto autocracy?

The people of Sierra Leone are waiting for answers on or before the 19th June 2024 when those recommendations would show that they are indeed a Tripartite Committee that delivers justice to the people or rather a Tripartite Conspiracy that has sealed the end of democracy in Sierra Leone. So help us God!

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